Bubbles set to rise to top
The quality on offer in Listowel cranks up a notch today, highlighted by a wide-open edition of the €45,000 Lartigue Hurdle.
Willie Mullins' game Galway winner Call Me Bubbles tops the weights in the four-year-olds' handicap, with Foot Soldier and Hurricane Jojo – first and second at Ballinrobe a month ago – in at the bottom of the page.
Call Me Bubbles also won at the Mayo track en route to Galway, and is sure to be thereabouts again off an eight-pound higher mark.
Of the 13 runners, though, the Gordon Elliott-trained Bayan appeals as the most likely winner.
A winner at Cork on heavy going in March, he then scored on the level at Dundalk, before finishing most of 12 lengths behind Call Me Bubbles at Ballinrobe.
Since then, he has won a pair of novice hurdles at Perth, either side of running Curley Bill to a head in deep ground at Galway. He is progressing well and a stone better off with Call Me Bubbles ought to give him a real chance.
Ruby Walsh is sure to figure aboard Tony Martin's dual bumper winner Lagan Canal in the concluding Kerry Petroleum Maiden Hurdle. Eoin Doyle's Mutiska is one of a number of others to consider in the 18-strong field, but preference is for the consistent Donatis Comet.
Pat Martin's seven-year-old, a triple bumper winner in 2011 before landing a Clonmel Flat maiden last year, has finished second in each of his three hurdle starts. At Galway last week, he looked as though he would collect until Run For Firth battled back gamely.
While some might suggest that his decreasing win ratio is a concern, he didn't really seem to do much wrong at Ballybrit.
Run For Firth is no slouch and got the run of the race, so Donatis Comet warrants the nap vote to frank the form under Barry Geraghty.
A maximum of seven will go to post for the John F Maguire Novice Chase, and a case could be made for the four recent winners, Ancient Days, Rockshandy, Sizing Symphony and Shanpallas.
Each of the quartet are ground- dependent, but maybe none more so than Sizing Symphony, which returned from a lay-off with a fine win at Tipperary in July.
However, if the ground holds up, Sizing Symphony is surely the one to beat, as he really looked the part when completing a treble over flights at Cheltenham back in October 2011.
On the Flat, Cheval Rouge catches the eye for Harry Rogers and Pat Smullen in the mile fillies' handicap. Danny O'Sullivan's improving three-year-old Lake Louise is another to consider, but Cheval Rouge finished second in this last year.